Leading with humility

A CEO at age 34, Emilia Nghikembua shares her journey of ‘dying to self’ to lead her team to excellence.

26 November 2021 | Local News

“My mom taught me the value of work ethics. She still scolds us for taking leave, because ‘work must be respected’,” said Emilia Nghikembua.

Jeanette Diergaardt





Having been raised by the values imparted by her parents, Emilia Nghikembua leads her own path as a young CEO of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Her father taught her to be a firm but humble leader and her mother taught her the importance of a good work ethic.

Being an alumnus of the University of Witwatersrand and the University of Namibia (Unam), she remembers a home that, growing up, has always been blissful. She was born and raised in the Ohangwena Region, at the then Ogongo Agricultural College, which now is a Unam campus.

After her high school years at Oshigambo High School, Nghikembua took an academic path venturing into the field of law. The young CEO holds two master’s degrees - a Master of Law (Cum Laude) from Unam as well as a Master of Arts in ICT Policy and Regulation from Wits.

One of Nghikembua’s biggest accomplishments is becoming a CEO at the age of 34, a milestone she never saw coming. “Our God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think,” says Nghikembua.

According to her, being a woman makes her good at her job, unlike the popular stereotype that women are too emotional to run a business. “That perception is one of the many barriers that society imposes on women to prevent us from assuming leadership roles,” she said.

Running CRAN

Nghikembua’s days are filled with overseeing formulation of regulatory interventions and implementing strategic objectives, ensuring that CRAN employees are well positioned to fulfil their tasks.

Before becoming CEO of CRAN, Nghikembua started at the bottom and worked her way up to leading the company. This places her in a fortunate position of understanding the operations of CRAN. “This knowledge enables me to ask the right questions,” Nghikembua said, adding that this allows her team to be experts in their respective fields, enabling her to make well advised decisions.

Being a CEO at the heart of telecommunication in Namibia, Nghikembua foresees the company reinventing itself to one that creates value for consumers and licensees.

“We are therefore reforming our regulatory framework to yield tangible results to consumers in the form of affordable prices,” Nghikembua said, highlighting the importance of reinventing the company by way of providing affordable prices and a range of products and services to choose from. She added that a competitive landscape in telecommunications is necessary for the market to grow and thrive.

The tie in

The young CEO joined CRAN in 2011 as a legal assistant, seeing a promotion in 2012 to legal advisor and in 2015 she was appointed as head of legal advice, a position she held until her tenure as CEO. Having years of experience in the field of law, it has equipped her to deal with complex matters that might come her way, providing her with the needed confidence in decision-making as well as analytical skills to complete her tasks to the best of her abilities.

The CEO mentioned that being a part of the telecommunication industry provides days that are never the same and affords her the opportunity to work in an agile and evolving industry. Outside of CRAN, she finds her peace and sanctuary at home with her husband.

Nghikembua starts her day filled in the presence of God. Another inspiration for the CEO is what her mentor always says: “For gold to be gold, it must go through fire”. She is further inspired by her story to one day become a blueprint for the youth of impactful leadership.

5 facts:

1. She is a child of God.

2. She is an introvert

3. She loves travelling and will one day have travelled the world

4. She is passionate about uplifting people, especially the youth.

5. She enjoys shopping.

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